TWO HUNDRED THIRTY ONE…wellness

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There are so many great blogs out there related to travel. Blogs about food, full-time RV life, historical landmarks in each city, state parks across the US, …etc. Some blogs give you insight on the best RV parks/cities for families with young children with a plethora of options to keep the kids entertained. Some give you great suggestions if you have pets. Of course, there are the blogs for the older crowd trying to keep busy as well as staying far far away from campers with kids….most of those can be found in Arizona.

Some blogs give advice to couples who may be tandem camping. There are even blogs out there which cater to specific activities. For example, if you love off-roading or four-wheeling, there are a lot of campgrounds in western California, Nevada, and Arizona with actual off-roading courses built right in. Some of them even have their own restaurants and convenience stores so you can hunker down and never leave your little oasis.

I considered, before we started this adventure, specializing in something. A food blog was out of the question. A. I don’t have the genetic makeup which will allow me to eat my way through the U.S. and be happy B. Nor do I have the energy to research, visit, and write a critique all the amazing food choices. And, although not necessarily in blog format, it’s already been done….thank you Anthony Bourdain.

I could have pulled from my various habits, like photography, knitting, writing, and working out…I wasn’t jazzed about doing a blog where I focused on the best campgrounds to get a great workout. That could get old quick and I am sure I would have to get into webcasting which doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t knit often enough to do a blog about the best campgrounds to knit and people watch. You can and should be able to take pictures anywhere…same goes for writing so neither of those ideas sounded appealing.

I just decided to continue writing about our lives on the road…it’s my favorite subject anyway.

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But looking back with the information I have now, I am convinced I could write a fairly thorough blog detailing the best Urgent Cares each city has to offer. Or the cleanest, most kid-friendly, and efficient ERs out there.

Mississippi has a pretty good Urgent Care in Diamond Head. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as kid-friendly or even clean but when I took Cecilia in for “clear drainage” from her right ear last Monday, they sure were efficient…and nice. Even more-so on her follow-up visit this past Monday.

I hate to compare other ERs to Newport, Vermont’s ER but I’ve never seen an ER look so immaculate, react so swiftly, and process the patient so efficiently. They are truly impressive. The ER in Gulfport, Mississippi was pretty clean, the doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon were able to see us within an hour of arriving…but it would have been unfair to compare the efficiency of the administration in Mississippi to that of Vermont’s. Some administrations simply aren’t concerned about efficiency.

So, when Phoebe broke her right wrist on Monday after falling off the monkey bars at the park playground, we were able to experience Gulfport’s Emergency Room first hand. As soon as we arrived, we were processed and asked to wait in any of the three available waiting rooms. We turned around and as always, my goal was to pick the one with the least amount of “sick” people.

The two on our right had patients who were close to hacking up a lung and there was a peculiar gentleman taking up an entire couch with his feet up and shirt way above his enormous hairy belly. The one to our left boasted of a family who were verbally accosting one another and it looked as if it was soon to escalate to a physical confrontation. So…we chose the deathly ill, scantily clad waiting room.

Great.

So just to recap our Monday, early in the morning, I drove Cecilia to the Urgent Care in Diamond Head approximately 25 miles north of our current campsite. Later in the afternoon (three hours later) we were heading back to the ER in Gulfport which was 45 miles north of our campsite. That’s a lot of back and forth driving from the same areas in one day…in other words, backtracking…this very thing would drive Greg to the brink of insanity.

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We were in and out of the ER within a three-hour time period. The X-Ray showed yet another ‘green stick’ fracture on her right wrist. It was the same exact type of fracture, in the same exact place, on the opposite arm, as the last time in Vermont, 10 months ago. The Ortho wrapped her arm in loose material and settled it with a sling. We knew the drill: The material, which is not allowed to get wet, has to stay on her arm for three days to allow for the majority of the swelling to subside; In a couple of days, we return and she gets a hard cast.

Fast forward to the ‘hard cast fitting day’ and she is presented with a choice of fifteen colors to choose from. Pink, green, purple (which I for sure thought she would pick because its her fave color), green and pink camo, blue etc…She ended up choosing white. Luckily for her, it was a glow-in-the-dark cast.

Rewind to last night, when I woke up to check on her around the 3 a.m. hour. Imagine my surprise when I found her wide awake and proudly proclaiming, “I know why my cast isn’t glowing right now mommy…because the window shade is letting in light from the street lamp!!” At 3 a.m. I did not want to encourage her to stay up any longer, but I had to acknowledge the humor in the situation…here she was bright and early on a random Saturday morning trying to solve the mystery of the not-glowing ‘glowing cast’.

After I pulled the window shade down, we tested her glowing cast. She sighed a big joyous breath of air and settled her head on her pillow. As I tucked her back into bed and kissed her good night, I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t enjoy writing about anything else. These are the stories I want to tell. Our story.”

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And of course, I have no pictures of Phoebe in her cast, because I have been too busy to take pictures of her cast. Those will have to come next week.

Have a great last week of April…where did that time go? Eleven months, right around the corner. Almost one whole year of being on the road. So hard to believe.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE…we’re in Texas sha moe part 2

In trying to stay on point with part 1 I stated we were in Texas in the title but that’s no longer the case. We are now bunking in a small rural town in Louisiana.

We went from moderate humidity, cool breezy nights, and sunny warm days to overwhelming humidity, stagnant warm nights and equally stagnant warm days. Despite the continuous rain we’ve experienced, I know it is beautiful here. And I am pleased to report, the Pelican state has plenty of grass and trees.

When we woke up this morning, I informed the girls of my plans to re-organize the past ten months of schoolwork. It’s constant work to keep everything neatly arranged in its place and the girls are moving up a grade. So we are making room for the new curriculum and sending their old work back to my sweet unsuspecting mother. Out with the old, in with the new. They helped with Cecilia, taking her to the potty, keeping her occupied and fed while I hacked away at our school clutter and WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT AS SOON AS I FINISHED and the rain held off for a couple more hours, we were off to the campground’s pool, playground, and splash pad…due to the monsoon-like weather, I did not take any pictures.

Please allow me to backtrack for a moment. When I called to make a reservation Monday afternoon, the gentleman on the other end of the line sort of chuckled at me and remarked, “We got plenty a room…you ain’t gotta make no reservation”.

SWEET! “So this is a great time to visit this part of the state…it has to be…who would pass up a campground like this, especially when kids are involved!”  This particular campground boasted of a pool, splash pad, playground, big pond with gazebos and footbridges, and a small catch and release fishing pond.

As I finished the last of the clearing out, the girls scrambled to get their swimsuits on. We made our way to the front office where I was hoping to settle our bill, but just like it was on Tuesday, the sign on the door said “closed”.

We schlepped our way over to the playground.  The pool was pretty close by, but was an odd color. I thought it was the reflection of the dark blue tile on the inside wall…but upon further inspection, I realized the water-color was in fact black.

I rounded the corner to take a mental picture of the “splash pad” covered in 3″ deep standing water. The word BACTERIA flashed before my very eyes in bright red neon lights.

When I turned to peruse the playground, I was equally unimpressed. This week is going to be a bust…at least in terms of getting out and enjoying our surroundings.

Thank God it’s Thursday. Only 2 more days and then we’re heading to the coast of MS. Well, 3 more days actually, but Saturday doesn’t count as we have a major excursion planned.

The point is, we are not here…

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Lacking in stimuli here in our campground in rural Louisiana, I would like to continue with the second half of the story about our beach time fun in the good old state of TX.

Before we embarked on our epic journey 9 months ago, we decided it would be fun to buy a beach tent.

We aren’t really beach tent kind of people, but thought it might allow us to extend our beach stays past the normal three and a half hours.

Knowing this Spranger family and my husband in particular, it couldn’t be just any tent. It needed to be the newest most minimalistic and indestructible tent on the market. Introducing this crazy-ass tent.  It takes a strong understanding of directional wind and a very precise placement of support beams otherwise known as poles.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I believe, thanks to the pictures below, that I am Justified when I write, the tent and I have some issues. I am convinced this tent exists to point out my wind calculation inadequacies. Below are pictures of the tent throughout the course of one day. I would get it up, after 15 minutes it would fall. This continued for a period of five hours.

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229 l.jpgBut dammit I kept trying. Hoping with the tents’ billowy graceful falls to the ground the girls would see, that I was not readily relinquishing my goal to get that damn tent to stay up. I know onlookers noticed me not relinquishing.

I even had one man stand within a few yards of me while I was struggling with the tent poles. He had a quizzical look on his face. If I were to interpret his facial contortions I would say he may have been trying to figure out if I was a performance artist or just a regular mom of three struggling to pup a tent. I could tell he wanted to help, but I was determined to figure it out on my own.

I entertained the thought of jumping from behind the fallen tent, taking a bow, and holding out my baseball cap just in case he wanted to give me some money for the 15 minutes of entertainment I no doubt provided. I just continued to struggle. He finally moved on. He didn’t leave any change. Voyeur.

Then of course there was the whole ordeal of the girls covering one another in wet sand. I’m sure I don’t need to write about the state of our shower after that fiasco.

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229 c.jpgFinally, we are the family who shows up at the beach with every sand toy known to man. If you can imagine it, we’ve got it. And every toy is used.

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I feel good about the hundreds of dollars we have spent on beach toys because I know they are being used and abused. The big hit this year is the dump truck. Not just with Cecilia… it has become the toy Abby and Phoebe fight over.

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The toy that launched a thousand screams, “Its my turn Phoebe…you’ve had it all day” “No Abby, you had it all day yesterday…and you picked the movie last night” because young people use logic to justify their arguments…”Well Phoebe you hit CC earlier and took her doll away from her this morning” and as you can imagine it escalates from there.

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I have been trying to let the girls work their issues out on their own, hoping they will find a peaceful and egalitarian resolution without my having to mediate. Either that or I’m just too tired to referee knowing that particular argument won’t be the last.

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229 w.jpg“It’s mine”, CC aggressively informs them. I can’t help but laugh as she grabs the dump truck and bolts in the opposite direction as fast as her little legs can take her. “CC, give it back to Phoebe…she had it first…your not being nice!” “No CC give it to Abby, it was her turn not yours!”  CC throws it down before they can yank it from her pudgy little hands. Conflict resolution 101 folks. Throw logic to the wind, just sit and wait. Eventually, it will all work itself out. Once again, we are not here,

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Sha moe…I’m going to make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, ya know it, ya know it, ya know it, ya know! No seriously, I’m going to change my current position in order to make Greg a coffee, and it will feel real good. Sha moe!

Enjoy your Thursday!

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT…we’re in Texas, “sha-moe” Part ONE

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It’s official, Texas is quickly becoming one of my favorite states. We just spent a glorious week at South Padre County Park where we were mere steps away from the beach. Ok, maybe the word “steps” might be exaggerating a wee bit…our beach journey was more like a short jaunt. I would like to take this moment and express my happiness in the form of song lyrics of Michael Jackson, “Sha-MOE”.

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Which brings me to my story of the day. It doesn’t matter where we are, Florida, North Carolina, California, Oregon, New York, Vermont or Maine, I am the human equivalent of a pack mule heading on a long journey for a daytime destination.

I can see it in my mind and am certain it is a comical sight. I wish I could capture the image for you, heck, I wish I could capture the image for myself…but it would most likely make me sad. Suffice it to say, my enormous beach bag now being used as a bag for transporting sand toys, a medium-sized drink/snack bag, giant beach blanket, 5 towels, and my camera bag all while pushing Cecilia in the stroller makes me feel as ridiculous as it sounds.

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It’s no surprise for those who’ve been reading this blog or know me…I’ve always been open about my over-packing issues. BUT, I really do need all those things, assuming I want to have a relaxing day at the beach. If I don’t bring toys, the girls will pester me to play with them the ENTIRE time. If I don’t bring snack and drinks…our four hour stay will turn into a dismal 45 minute wine fest with impulse to pack everything back into their special bags and head home. Same goes for towels and blankets. And any time I don’t bring my camera, I just sit and watch all these wonderful picturesque moments pass me by.

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So, I am owning it.

With each step getting me closer to the beach, the load I would carry, reaffirmed my current life motto, I am a pack-mule. The looks, the crazy stares, and as always the, “You’ve got your hands full” commenters…I don’t care anymore…it’s totally worth it.

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We spent all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the beach. Since we needed recoup days, we used Tuesday and Thursday as “school work” make-up days, much to the girls’ chagrin.

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Cecilia as always, is the DJ for the entire day…controlling my iTune downloads and adjusting our portable Bose speaker volume. Phoebe was the self-appointed dj for the longest time until Cecilia relieved her of her duties when she refused to play Cecilia’s favorite Dr. Demento’s Star Trekkin for a fifth time.

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Despite having to chauffeur Cecilia around in the stroller, my duties at the beach have been greatly reduced. Everyone is getting older. I can sit, relax, sip on water, listen to Star Trekkin a gazillion times, and just watch my little inmates run wild on the deserted beach. Occasionally, I step into the DJ booth. I have rediscovered my 90’s all-time favorite bands The Police, The Black Crows, U2…and then ‘Fool in the Rain’ comes on and I just can’t contain my good vibes. I have to get up and run to each of them, kiss their little foreheads, dance like an idiot with them in the water, and tell them how much I love them.

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But I swear to everything holy, if I have to listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ song one more time, my head will explode. Abby has discovered and fallen in love with Michael Jackson. “…As I turned up the pot of gold, my favorite winter cold…a broken bottle top…they follow each other on the window sill…and no mess is gonna man in the cliver…

What the crap is a “cliver”? I’m afraid to ask…yet, I need to know.

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“MOM, those aren’t the words” yells Abby disapprovingly.

Nah nah nah nah nah…uh huh…there is love with no home and not a nickel to love, could it be, would it be pretending that their not alone…a willow deep blue sky…Ja know…whew, whew, whew, whew, whew…Im’ gonna make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, sha-moe, you got to move, sha-moe…whew, whew, whew, whew…” before he whispers, “Make that change“. And don’t even get me started on the cowbell in the background. If you ask me, it really adds to the immediacy and importance of the message, “Man in the mirror…make that change”.

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Abby eats it up, “Mom, can we play it again? PLEASE??? And don’t mess up the words this time Mom, if your going to sing, sing the right words!”

Join me for the next blog entry where I discuss other issues I have with our beach trips, including but not limited to our haphazard tent  escapades, girls and their beach toys, and kids who love to get dirty… Until tomorrow…

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“Sha-MOE…make that change”

Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR…The Septuagenarian Police

…And, we’re still in Arizona.

We left the glorious casino parking lot in Sedona, Arizona on a frigid 56 degree Sunday afternoon. We returned to a park we had previously bunked in for 2 weeks. 

Wait…let me back up. All parks, including state campgrounds, have their own “unique” rules and this park was no exception. In fact, it might be the park with the most restrictions on the planet. The most RIDICULOUS restrictions on the planet.

This park, located in Tonopa, Arizona (pronounced ‘toe’ as in hey guys look at my toe: ‘No’ as in No, you may not go to the store; and ‘Pa’ is in Pa is that you?) But you have to say it really fast. The first time I saw the name, I resorted back to my high school church youth group theme song ‘Constantinople’ from They Might Be Giants. I was pronouncing Tonopa like they do in the song along with a little bit of my own southern flare, Constantinopa. The pronunciation goes something like this, (Toe as in hey guys, look at my toe; Nope as in Nope, you make not go to the store; Ah as in Ah, I see, thank you for explaining it to me.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed pronouncing it this way, punching those explosive vowel consonant  combinations with my enthusiasm. The first time the town’s name left my lips in the local Wal-Mart, I was immediately rebuffed by a small group of people who had surrounded me. These Arizonans were filled with questions like, “Oh my gosh, can you say that again…Where are you from…Where are you staying again…Oh you poor thing…That’s not the correct pronunciation…etc.” Much like those foreigners who come to North Carolina and Tennessee and pronounce ‘Appalachia’ like (Apa; Lay as in Lay the blanket down; Sha…I have no sentence for this utterly annoying sound.)

Luckily, the group was kind enough to give me the correct pronunciation.

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So, back to the campground with its “unique” set of rules. So their rules only allow people to stay for three days or one month. No more, no less. So, if your waiting on a part from La Mesa RV and they say, “It will arrive in four days Ma’am”…we can stay there for three days, but on the third day we have to pack up our things and go. They also only allow two people per RV to stay over night, so if you have kids, your pretty much boned. Four weeks ago, when we stumbled on the campground, their unique “rules” were not displayed in the open anywhere. With it being the weekend and the office being closed, we just pulled into an open overnight space and set up camp. We were planning on staying for a month knowing the slowness of most RV companies.

The following morning I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing. It was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground from the front office with a screeching, “Angie, Spr..Spring..ker, this is the front desk letting you know you have three too many people in your RV and therefore we cannot honor your request to stay. Im so sorry. Check out is 11:00 am.”  I explained my situation and they VERY RELUCTANTLY allowed us to stay for two weeks, way beyond their “better judgement”.

Somewhere in that exchange, they may or may not have said, “But you cannot return to the campground EVER AGAIN.” If they made that statement, I didn’t hear it.

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Which brings me back to the infamous “Monday” February 20th. When we pulled into the same campsite on Sunday afternoon, I filled out my pay information and indicated on the  envelope we were intending to stay for a mere ‘two’ days. TWO days. TWO.

Picture this, a mother and her child sleeping cosily in bed and the sun shining through the morning window. When my phone rang and caller id, displayed “Phoenix Arizona” on the smart screen, I assumed it was the RV center calling for us to come on in so they could finally fix our broken jack.

Alas, it was the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground. A scary, feeble, coarse voice on the other line screeched out, “Angie???” “Yes” I said. She sternly introduced herself, “This is the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground…and I understand your back in the park?” “Yes, we are. We came in last night, we are still waiting on our piece from the RV company. We should only be here 2 days. I hope this isn’t a problem.” To which the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground replied in her scary feeble crotchety voice, “Well, yes it is a problem Angie. I told you, you could never come back to the campground. We helped you and extended your stay the first time and that was enough. We need you to leave. You are not to come back.” Stunned, I replied, “Really…we’ve paid, we won’t cause any trouble, you have plenty of room, it’s not like we’re blocking business…there are miles of empty slots…and we’ve paid already, are you sure you don’t want that money?” “Check out is 11:00 am sharp” the Captain of the Septuagenarian Police force of the Campground barked…and then I heard a dial tone.

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I felt like a teenager who had been reprimanded for smoking pot or sneaking out of my mothers basement to go meet boys who had just been released from prison. As we were pulling out of the parking lot for the last time EVER…I imagined the Septuagenarian administration making a mandatory change of the rules to add, THIS IS A 55+ RV COMMUNITY ONLY, as most RV campsites in Arizona do already.

So to sum up the events which transpired Monday February 20th at Tonopa, Arizona: We were officially kicked out of our first campground. I felt a rush of emotions: anger, embarrassment, annoyed, confusion, still sleepy, rushed, panicked, and finally disbelief.

I took the girls to the park while Greg prepped the RV for departure. In case we were going to be on the road for a couple of hours, I wanted them to get their wiggles out.

I have nothing against the average well-behaved and respectful Septuagenarian. It’s the Septuagenarian who are generally angry, that rub me the wrong way.

Luckily, we were able to find another campground in Yuma which had an opening for the following 2 weeks without many ridiculous restrictions. This campground is also run by Septuagenarians, but they seem very nice. I guess we’ll see.

Without a doubt, this was the most interesting Monday I think we’ve ever had.

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And I spoke with the repair company…looks like we will be here for another 2 weeks.

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY THREE…We won the lotto

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As of February 10, 2017 we have officially been full-time RV’ers for 32 weeks which ultimately translates into 224 days, and 5, 376 hours. We are still in the desert…But we recently ran into a bit of luck at a casino. Yes you read that correctly. I said casino. I know what some of you may jump to right away, “Oh wow, they won a boatload of cash”. Alas, we did in fact win the lottery, in a big big way. Yes my friends, I am proud and happy to say the Cliffs Castle Casino located…somewhere in Arizona…awarded us with a whopping …

…Hang on, I have to back up a bit…

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As I stated previously, we have been full-time RV’ers for 8 months and a week. Before we started this crazy journey, we had a loyal babysitter twice a week for 4 years. It was the same beautiful, smart, kind-hearted girl named Amanda. We all loved her. We had her twice a week. Did I say that already? It’s a hard pill to swallow going from twice a week babysitter for 4 years to 8 months of no date night to speak of.

A couple of nights ago, Greg and I were having a conversation about how we would just be so grateful for one night alone together. Just dinner, drinks, and conversation without interruption.

…which brings me back to our major lotto winnings last night…

We drove to this tiny little town in Arizona to visit Montezuma’s Castle. It was a cold rainy day and we spent something like 2 hours walking around the grounds and learning about the fascinating lives of the Hopi Tribe.

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Since we were only staying one night, we decided to  boon-dock in a vacant parking lot just below the casino. Greg read somewhere about a kid arcade or something they boasted of. It was around 2 in the afternoon and Cecilia was asking for a snack. So we agreed he would take Abby and Phoebe to this arcade or toy store, whatever it was…while I stayed back with Cecilia.

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I dropped Greg and the girls off and headed back to the RV with CC. We had just gotten inside our humble abode…Cecilia had asked to go to the potty (YEAH!), I took off my shoes, made myself a warm cup of tea, turned on the news, and prepped a small snack. Cecilia and I had just cozied up on the couch when my phone lit up. It was a text from Greg, which I ignored at first.

I was about to enjoy my first sip of warm tea and noticed my phone was lighting up again. “OK, something might have happened to him or one of the girls, even though I just left them 10 minutes ago”. I checked the message and it read,”Dude, get back up here now! Bring CC with you! They have a giant play center for the kids….BABYSITTERS!!! We can have some time ALONE!!!”

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I jumped up from the couch, threw my tea in the sink, put CC in a new pair of socks and shoes and bolted out the door. “HELL YES!!!” I said to myself.

Thus winning the best prize I could have asked for in that moment.

Together Greg and I checked CC in and practically ran to the nearest bar where we talked non-stop and uninterrupted I might add, for 2 whole hours.

We peeked in on the kids twice. Both times they were all playing with friends and climbing this awesome giant jungle gym of nets, running around carefree, and dancing with the music. We didn’t feel guilty at all when we decided to have a 2 hour dinner at a nice steakhouse in the casino.

It was so refreshing. I felt so relaxed knowing the kids were having a great time, running around, using their gross motor muscles, and playing with other kids their age.

Suffice it to say, I was not surprised when I awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. I am ready to begin again. Last night we definitely won the lotto…hit the jackpot…experienced a full house…had a royal flush…and any other term you can think of…

…great food, great music, great company, great conversation…and a blissful 4 hours alone.

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Feeling appreciative today folks. 

I’m one lucky lady. 

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY TWO…damn desert

I am so done with the desert.

I’ve sat down to write this post 20 times within the last month. I write for 20 minutes, proof-read, realize it’s just a bunch of crap, erase, minimize the screen, close my computer, put it to the side and walk away. I have reached a point in my negativity where pithy statements reign over being “creative”. Day after day, I just walk by the sexy sleek green-cased Apple computer and day-dream about the words flowing freely from my hand.

I set my camera down at the end of January and haven’t touched it since. I have zero motivation to take pictures of the girls for the umpteenth time standing or playing in the desert. But we are stuck here until the RV company can replace our broken jack. Yes, in case you were wondering, we have already had one of our 4 jacks repaired 1 month after we purchased the behemoth, so…..theres that.

As soon as they repair it, we are making a B-LINE to Texas. This southern girl is missing the feeling of plush grass beneath her feet, leaves on trees and the natural shade they provide (perfect for taking pictures mid-day), humidity in the air, gently rolling vibrant green hills, natural hospitality, bodies of water, occasional rainstorms, dreary grey days,  offensive religious billboards which challenge my personal beliefs, and the general color green.

It’s so bad right now, I have been pinning dream houses and dream yards with overly manicured lawns in my Pinterest account. No doubt, if I grew up in the desert, I would be totally enthralled. Being surrounded by trees, understandably might make me feel as if I were being encroached upon.  BUT, I was born and raised in the south…surrounded by trees and real grass. I feel too exposed in the desert…I like to play hide-and-seek with the sun. I love when it’s out in full force and we find shade to sit and take pictures in. There’s nowhere to hide here, no matter how much sunscreen I lather on, the sun just beats down on my skin and I can hear my skin aging rapidly.

I will take pictures again…one day. I desperately miss my camera…and writing. Needless to say, we have completed quite a bit of schoolwork and for once, I am proud to say, we are ahead of my schedule. So the desert has been good for us in that regard.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY…paradise vs. reality

In the wee hours of Monday, January 16th, we were all slowly waking up in our new existence. For the next week we are camping out just south of Tucson. We finally moved from paradise. It was time. We were ready. As ready as we thought we were, it is a little sad to wake up and suddenly, 1. you have a neighbor again, 2. you not only have one neighbor but many 3. the amazing view of the Colorado River has been replaced by a parking lot of other RVs and Finally, 4. the sand from our private island has been superseded with miles upon miles of asphalt.

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When you stay on a private island for 2 months and 2 whole weeks, you have some mental hurdles to overcome when re-entering civilization: Getting out the door is the first step in the re-entry process, familiarizing yourself with the new town goes a long way, Grocery shopping at the local grocery store seems to quell my initial pangs of “Oh wow, I miss the campsite we just left!” I also noticed my habitual task of cleaning and straightening up once we get settled into our new existance…putting everything back in its place is a good way to create a “homey environment”. For me, cleaning and grocery shopping are my goto’s for making the process of getting used to an area a little easier.

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Regular life keeps on going…and soon the private island longing turns into good feelings and positive memories. I am now free to reflect on what the private island gave to our little family. We learned so much about ourselves during our extended stay: it was our first experience with major holidays away from family and on an RV, making holiday’s more merrier for the kids was both laborious as well as easy: It took a lot more imagination and creativity to prep for the holidays but it was easier because it was a much smaller space; I got into the habit of waking early to do some writing; due to the fluctuating temperatures, I now prefer layering more than ever; and school works best when mommy has a plan! I’ve always known that last one, but staying in Paradise reminded me, we will just amiably roam around unless I have an agenda!!!

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We were able to accomplish a lot of tasks and make some pretty amazing memories there. When we left Sunday afternoon, the feeling of excitement flooded my being. I can’t help getting excited and eager to see and experience new things with my family. But as always, when we pulled into the campsite late Sunday afternoon, I suddenly had a longing for the paradise we had left behind. There’s nothing new about this feeling. I have learned to recognize the pattern of ‘uneasy feelings’ when first arriving at a new destination. It happened with paradise as well: I was wary about the isolation of being on a river far away from the actual campground.

But it always turns out to be a positive.

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Upon arrival of a new site, I always see my surroundings in a “literal” way. Which makes sense, I have no experience of the new place so I cannot draw from the good feelings I had when we visited here “that one time”. I only see what’s right in front of my face. Later Monday morning, when we took our morning walk around the campsite and the girls were riding on their scooters weaving left to right on the open roads, my “literal” view began to change to a more figurative one.

The figurative view allows me to look beyond the not-so-great aesthetics of our current surroundings and see it for what it allows our family to experience. The more memories we make in this area/town, the more warm feelings I will have toward this campground. It’s liberating to recognize a pattern for what it is…a recurring feeling…and it’s attachment to an emotional feeling I have. Once the pattern is identified, I can sit back and watch it  take an active role in helping it blossom into something more. I might add, there has yet to be an instance when the negative feelings persist.  Even the ugliest campgrounds have a special place in my heart.

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